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New York Times, Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Author: Adam G. Perl
Editor: Will Shortz
Adam G. Perl
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
2912/28/19988/29/20170
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18107300
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.50010

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 40 Missing: {JKQVXZ} This is puzzle # 26 for Mr. Perl. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Adam G. Perl notes: The inspiration for this puzzle was Bob Dylan's classic song of 1964, 'The Times They Are A-Changin',' and the realization that ... more
Adam G. Perl notes:

The inspiration for this puzzle was Bob Dylan's classic song of 1964, "The Times They Are A-Changin'," and the realization that the title could be split into three seven-letter sections. I knew that there were four common anagrams for TIMES (SMITE, EMITS, MITES and ITEMS), but I set out to find all the possible permutations and discovered the additional pair of two-word phrases, IT'S ME and I'M SET.

So, despite no long themed entries, the puzzle has a total of nine theme-related answers. This makes getting interesting non-thematic words in the grid a larger-than-usual challenge. I was very pleased to have been able to include IN THE MOMENT and INDIGO GIRLS (who appeared as NY Times crossword fans in the wonderful documentary "Wordplay") as the two long down words as well as the secondary entries of SEE PAST, TUNA SUB, CIA GATE, I AM SAM, SO I SEE, and A AND E.

There are a few crosswordese bits in the fill, but on balance, I feel the theme density and the many interesting side entries more than compensate for them.

Jeff Chen notes: THE TIMES / THEY ARE / A CHANGIN tying this puzzle together, featuring six (!) fine anagrams for TIMES. They're starred in the clues, ... more
Jeff Chen notes:

THE TIMES / THEY ARE / A CHANGIN tying this puzzle together, featuring six (!) fine anagrams for TIMES. They're starred in the clues, but I highlighted them below in blue so they stand out better. (I must admit, I missed two of them at first.)

Bob Dylan's album

I felt like I ran into a lot of crossword glue as I solved — ALIT, APO, SMOOT, ATNOS just to start along the left-hand side. And given that at first glance, there didn't seem to be a huge amount of longer theme material, I stopped to consider why this was.

A normal weekday puzzle has roughly 50 theme squares, something like four themers of 12ish letters, or five themers of 10ish letters. This one, at 53 squares doesn't seem to be much different. But it's much, much harder to work with a bunch of short answers than it is just a few long answers. This might be counterintuitive, but every time you place a word, no matter how long, it reduces your flexibility. Now consider that Adam had nine (!) entries to place. That fixes so much of your grid into rigidity.

The next problem is adhering to the 78-word maximum. Because every theme answer is relatively short, you must work in some long fill. I really like INDIGO GIRLS, IN THE MOMENT, even TWITTER, SANCTUM, TUNA SUB, CIAGATE. But every time you place one of those, it further chokes down your flexibility, forcing so many little areas that require crossword glue to hold them together.

Now, I still didn't love running into IM AT, REOIL, I GO, TEM, etc. during my solve, but at least thinking about the construction challenge made me better appreciate it. I do wonder if it might have gone a bit smoother if two of the six anagrams had been placed on the west and east (roughly ,where ALIT and ESOS are). That might have helped them to stand out, as well.

It is pretty cool to have six different anagrams that all work just fine — quite a nice find. That plus a perfect revealer splitting up just right for symmetry made it an interesting theme idea for me.

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© 2016, The New York TimesNo. 0127 ( 24,186 )
Across Down
1. *Do in, old-style : SMITE
6. Org. for Janet Yellen, with "the" : FED
9. *Grocery line count : ITEMS
14. Suffix with Obama, once : MANIA
15. One more than due : TRE
16. Judge's determination : AWARD
17. SeaWorld frolicker : OTTER
18. Club selection factor : LIE
19. *Tiny biters : MITES
20. Phil who sang "Draft Dodger Rag" : OCHS
21. Overlook, as a fault : SEEPAST
23. With 38- and 52-Across, 1964 Bob Dylan song ... or a hint to the answers to this puzzle's starred clues : THETIMES
25. Sine, for example : RATIO
28. Midtown Manhattan cultural attraction, for short : MOMA
29. Bigger than big : IMMENSE
31. G.I. address : APO
33. Symbol of penance : ASHES
36. Nutritional figs. : RDAS
37. Make a run for it : LAM
38. See 23-Across : THEYARE
41. "Need ___ on?" : IGO
42. When Brutus struck : IDES
44. Make even slicker : REOIL
45. Some refrigerators : GES
46. Foot-long sandwich option : TUNASUB
49. "See ya!" : CIAO
51. 5 for B and 6 for C : ATNOS
52. See 23-Across : ACHANGIN
56. Affair that led to Scooter Libby's 2007 conviction, informally : CIAGATE
58. Steering wheel option : TILT
59. *Gives off : EMITS
62. You, impersonally : ONE
63. Number of strikes in a turkey : THREE
64. Lash of old westerns : LARUE
65. Nabokov heroine : ADA
66. Canasta plays : MELDS
67. *Answer to "Who's there?" : ITSME
68. Pro ___ (for now) : TEM
69. *"No more, thanks" : IMSET
1. ___-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 : SMOOT
2. One of 20 in a book : MATCH
3. How Buddhists strive to live : INTHEMOMENT
4. Connects with : TIESTO
5. Musical gift : EAR
6. N.J. town next to Palisades Park : FTLEE
7. Great Lakes tribesmen : ERIES
8. How a daring quarterback may throw : DEEP
9. 2001 Sean Penn movie : IAMSAM
10. Service with a bird logo : TWITTER
11. The "E" of 12-Down : EAT
12. Army fare, for short : MRE
13. 1960s antiwar org. : SDS
21. Flop's opposite : SMASH
22. Place for a shot : ARM
24. "___ my wit's end!" : IMAT
26. "Colorful" folk duo : INDIGOGIRLS
27. River to the Missouri : OSAGE
29. Golf's Aoki : ISAO
30. Those, in Taxco : ESOS
31. Touched down : ALIT
32. "The Taming of the Shrew" setting : PADUA
34. Rosemary, for one : HERB
35. Part of a Masonic symbol : EYE
39. Nouveau ___ : RICHE
40. Director Kazan : ELIA
43. Place of privacy : SANCTUM
47. "Obviously" : SOISEE
48. 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup champs : USA
50. Reason to take off one's hat : ANTHEM
52. "Hoarders" airer : AANDE
53. Third-stringers : CTEAM
54. ___-France (region including Paris) : ILEDE
55. Bikini blast, briefly : NTEST
57. Target of blame : GOAT
59. "Y"-sporting collegian : ELI
60. Antislip protection : MAT
61. Recipient of much Apr. mail : IRS
63. Texter's "Didn't need to know that" : TMI

Answer summary: 2 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

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